Linux, musical road-dogging, and daily life by Paul W. Frields
Events FAD 2010.

Events FAD 2010.

I attended the Events FAD 2010 that happened this past weekend, along with Mel Chua, David Nalley, Clint Savage, Jon Stanley, Dennis Gilmore, Steven Parrish, Chris Tyler, and Max Spevack.

I arrived on Thursday evening, in time to catch Max and Greg at the office and say hi. Most of the remaining short time was spent sending a few emails, trying (in vain) to find a replacement battery for my camera since I managed to leave mine at home, and checking in at the hotel.

Friday we had a massive brainstorming session on what we lovingly called “FUDCon 2.0,” where we went over past event survey results and the comments that we had gathered from blogs and other feedback mechanisms. By far the two most consistent threads running through the discussion were:

  1. the limitation on time imposed by our current model of one day of BarCamp technical sessions, plus two days of hacking
  2. the need for regional FUDCon events to reflect the region where they’re held

In the North American region, the most straightforward solution to allow our event to scale better is to increase the length of the technical sessions to two days. This could result in a four-day FUDCon event as opposed to a three-day event in the past. Looking far ahead, I wonder if we would benefit from a week-long event, where besides educational value we could also tap into the planning value of having so many contributors in one place. But obviously that is a much more expensive event. So first things first, and the expanded length of technical sessions allows us to hold fewer tracks at one time, but still accommodate a similar total number of talks. And that solves one of the most frequently heard complaints, which is that people can’t attend every talk they want (or in some cases need) to see.

The second problem is more subtle, and we spent much of the FAD both generating a planning calendar for future premier Fedora events, and mapping out a better process for actually producing them. In the past, a premier event like FUDCon has been arranged by a very small number of people (sometimes just one or two, like me or Max). With FUDCon Toronto 2009, we debuted a dedicated fudcon-planning list and other open processes that helped other people get involved — especially a ground team at the FUDCon location.

In the future, contributors will be able to look at a calendar far in advance of the event, propose a FUDCon location through a streamlined and simple “bid process” (it’s not the Olympics, after all!), and we can use that information to figure out where and when to assign funding. Very helpful for the Community Architecture team which takes care of the budget for these events, and because the planning would use community centered, open resources and processes such as the list and IRC, anyone in the community can get involved in the process, helping with collateral design and creation, content decisions, FUDCon Live, and so forth.

During Saturday and Sunday, snow and ice kept us at the hotel, but we assembled in the hotel’s boardroom to work on from morning to night (and into the wee hours in some cases!). During this time, I worked quite a bit on the process docs for much of this, in collaboration with the other attendees, both remote and in person — particularly the sponsorship process that we have been successfully using for several months now for premier Fedora events.

Although I didn’t get to spend much time on code-type bits, I was very happy that the FOSSLC guys joined us throughout the event to hack on freeseer, their remote A/V capture utility which we are planning to use for future events. It’s very important to us in Fedora that we achieve our free software goals with free software, and the FOSSLC folks have been very excited about getting a fully free toolchain working. Clint Savage took the lead on working with them, and that partnership has already yielded fruit, like Ogg Theora support and trading some development model information that will help freeseer grow even faster in the coming weeks. If you run an event, whether you’re interested in doing it with 100% free software or not, the FOSSLC guys do incredible work and we highly recommend them. You can see some of their work at the FOSSLC site.

As it turned out, the sun came out on Sunday, bright and clear, and with it the contractors plowing the hotel lots and other side streets. Along with the natural melting, we were all able to get out of town successfully, delayed in some cases but not discouraged. While I was sad that we didn’t get to see more of Max in person because he (along with everyone else) was snowed in, we got a lot done through online collaboration, and the FAD was time very well spent. A very sincere thank you to all those who showed up and participated, both in person and virtually — the effort you put into the event made it a great success!